Jedediah WP Allen (Bilkent, Psychology)

“iToM: An Explicit Action-based Approach for an Implicit Theory of Mind”

Date: Friday, 12th October, 2018

Time: 1240 – 1330

Place: A-130

Organized by the Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Group at Bilkent University.

Parameters-—-Corinne-May-Botz

 

Abstract:  It has become increasingly clear over the last half century that there are multiple important changes in children’s abilities taking place at around age 4. These changes span social, emotional, and cognitive domains. While some researchers have argued that a domain-general development explains some of the changes, such a position is a minority view. In the current article, we provide some evidence for the development of an age 4 domain-general enabling constraint on children’s ability to reflect. In turn, the development of reflection is argued to enable the transitions that we see within and across developmental domains. The model of reflection being offered is part of a broader action-based model of cognition and mind – interactivism (Bickhard, 1973, 1978, 2009a, b). We use this broader action-based model to weigh in on a recent controversy in the early development of children’s social-cognitive abilities.

In particular, there is growing support for the conclusion that infants possess a rudimentary understanding of other people’s (false)beliefs based on research that uses looking time studies (Onishi & Baillargeon, 2005). However, the ability to reason about another person’s (false)beliefs has traditionally been assumed to develop around age 4 (Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001). Therefore, a new theory of mind debate exists about whether these early looking time studies involve the need to attribute false beliefs to others or not. We argue that children cannot reason about another person’s (false)beliefs without reflection; and therefore, that infant abilities only demonstrate an interactive knowledge of other people.

About the speaker: Jedediah WP Allen is an assistant professor of Psychology and co-director of the BIL-GE developmental lab at Bilkent University. He is an associated editor for New Ideas in Psychology and recently received a national grant. He pursues theoretical and empirical issues within the area of Developmental Cognitive Science with a focus on the nature of representation, learning, and development across the domains of social-cognitive and cognitive development. Specific areas of research and publication include: (over)-imitation, development of trust and deception, theory of mind development, infant research methodology, the nativist-empiricist debate, and the role of action-based frameworks for the study of developmental psychology.